Hedgehogs (Animal Safari), by Kari Schuetz
Hedgehogs are not the sort of animal that one would think of as being a safari find, but Africa is one of three continents where hedgehogs appear naturally, along with Europe and Asia. To be sure, this book offers a rather basic idea of safari, in that the book is designed for emergent readers to have a not very challenging and very introductory look at hedgehogs and their behavior. And though the understanding is that hedgehogs are wild animals–no hints of them serving as exotic pets here–there is still a lot of interest here in the way that the animals are portrayed as being the prey of larger animals like badgers and foxes and also as being opportunistic eaters of snakes. Seeing a hedgehog eat a poisonous snake is certainly not something that every child would be privileged to see in real life, and it makes for a fascinating picture at least that could provide a child with some questions about how it is that a cute little animal could be such a ferocious hunter, which is precisely the sort of question that children should ask about cute animals like the hedgehog.
This book is, like many books of its kind, 24 pages in length. The emergent level of this book focuses on providing support to new readers through the repetition of high-frequency words, light text, predictable patterns, and strong visual support and that is exactly what one finds here. The author begins with answering the question of what hedgehogs are and defines them through visual means, especially the quills and snouts, as well as the introduction of baby hedgehogs as hoglets and a discussion of where hedgehogs live and their habits of sleeping during the day. This is followed by a look at what hedgehogs eat, which shows hedgehogs digging for food as well as insects, worms, snails, and frogs, and the aforementioned shot of a hedgehog tearing into a snake the way I eat a steak. The last section of the book shows a hedgehog coiled in a ball and a fox attempting to eat a pokey hedgehog, after which there is a glossary, suggestions for further reading and research, and information about hedgehogs on the web, as well as an index. Though the book is definitely basic, the pictures are strong and this book will certainly give enough information about hedgehogs to lead a young reader to ask questions and want to read more if they happen to like the animal.